30 November, 2018 30 November, 2018

Giants of Bodyboarding

Although many surfers might consider the ‘boogie board’ the black sheep of the wave riding world, one things for sure, just like surfing the sport has progressed like a bat out of hell. You could easily argue that boogers have taught surfers a thing or two when it comes to taking flight. Yet, for some reason, surfers love to have a go at those who relish the opportunity to go prone atop Tom Morey’s invention
Back in the day, bodyboarding was frowned up, looked down upon, sneered at and told to “go die in a hole” by the surfing fraternity. Why, because boogies just got in the way. They could sit deeper, take off later and dominate the sets. The learning curve was much faster no dues were paid. They were as bad as SUPs, almost. But then what’s happened is that over the last few years, surfing seems to have won the ideological battle.


Boogie numbers have dwindled while surfing’s ranks have swelled. And all of a sudden surfers, Zigzag included, are revisiting the value of boogie-boarding and it’s influence on wave-riding culture. That’s the way it goes, innit. As soon as it’s not a threat, or a mainstream fad with the potential of crowding out already crowded line-ups, and returns to the core, expression of a hardcore sub-culture of absolute devotees, maniacs and wild-people who charge dry heaving slabs most want absolutely nothing to do with. Well, then it becomes kinda cool, all over again. Just, please don’t go mainstream, ever again. And we’ll get along just fine.
With that in mind, take a look at the APB world rankings and you’ll see that South Africans aren’t afraid of a bit of committed, fin-footed, skegless wave sliding. South Africa, unbeknownst to many,  continues to produce world-class bodyboarders; the likes of Sacha Specker and Andre Botha immediately jumping to the forefront of the temporal lobe. Making a name for themselves and joining that list is 2017 World Champion, Iain Campbel, and Jared Houston who banked his 2nd World Title a couple of weeks ago in Portugal. That’s 4 World bodyboarding Champions to surfing’s one and a half (Shaun Tomson & Martin Potter). 
Worth mentioning is young Tristan Roberts, who currently holds 5th place in the world Rankings. With 3 of the top 5 bodyboarders in the world right now being South African, we reached out to Jared and Iain for a closer look at the mechanics of the APB World Tour and asked the question how come South Africa dominates bodyboarding, kinda like how New Zealand dominates world rugby.

ZAG: Tell us about the Saffa Camp on tour, what’s the vibe like amongst you guys?

Jared Houston: The vibe is great amongst the Saffas. I’ve always thought that we’re the group on tour that supports each other the most. I’ve been on tour for almost ten years now, and as I live out of SA I really cherish the moments my countrymen and I share whilst competing. We’re all friends as well. I mean I’ve known Iain since we were grommets. When I first got on tour I was the kid and would always travel with Mark McCarthy and Sacha Specker. Nowadays I guess I’m a senior member. Iain and Tristan are the two best guys in SA right now and it’s insane to see how far their careers have progressed over the last 3 years!

SA over the years has been largely successful when it comes to bodyboarding, why do you think that is?

Yeah right, South Africa is without a doubt one of the powerhouses in the bodyboarding world. Look at this year’s world tour. There was one or more South Africans on the podium of every world tour event and between Iain, Tristan and myself we won 5 out of 8 events. All 3 of us finished in the top 5. Andre Botha’s reign was my introduction to the sport, so right away my goal was to be world champ and I knew that a young South African had already achieved it so why couldn’t I? I think we have a lot of insane bodyboarding waves in SA, and that fact has helped to breed some very capable and even cutting-edge bodyboarders over the years.

The national tour growing up was also paramount. There were up to 8 events in a year and all the best guys in the country did them. It was the most competitive national tour I’ve been a part of and I’ve competed in a few national tour events globally. 


Growing up who were you looking toward for motivation/inspiration?

Andre for sure, but closer to home there was this mental crew of young guys from Tableview. I moved there in 2004 and right away got to surf with the most progressive guys in the country, on a daily basis. Daniel Worsley was a clear standout and was probably aside from Dre the biggest influence on me in my early years. Mark and Spex were always there too.

What is your hope for South African bodyboarding?

I guess for the National tour to regain the momentum it had in the 2000’s. That’s something I’d be interested in helping out with in the years to come. Other than that I really hope people just continue to do it because it’s fun. No one is getting rich and not everyone will win a world title or get a signature boogie but everyone can get piped off their cones lying down FOR FREE.


What are the biggest hurdles the sport needs to overcome here at home?

The biggest hurdle is for sure the economy but that’s not changing any time soon. That’s a hurdle the whole country needs to overcome especially those under the line. We need to grow the industry by increasing participation and interest. Western province ran a pretty amazing schools league a few years ago and I reckon that should be focus number one when it comes to growing the sport.

Favourite wave domestically and internationally, if you had to choose?

In SA my favorite wave is Caves. I grew up in Stellenbosch and used to surf there all the time but even after moving to CT, I would pretty much be there every time it broke. It’s a world-class boog wave. The whole west coast is a special place too. Internationally Fronton is my favorite wave. It’s just everything you could want on a bodyboard mashed into one!

Who’s looking really good at the moment back here at home?

The only guys I get to see surf consistently are Iain and Tristan and to be honest I’m not sure if there is anyone else really on their level. Here and there I see some potential. I’d love to spend a few months at home soon and put some time in the water to get a feel for the current climate. 

You’re the World Champ, how does it feel to clinch the title once again? 

It feels sick! Kind of trippy because this year has been kind of nuts and I wasn’t able to focus as much as I would have in previous years. Maybe that was the key to taking the edge off and just letting my surfing do the talking. I’m super blessed to still be getting paid to Bodyboard and I’m really happy with my new sponsor Hubboards. Winning my first world title was awesome but the second one is almost sweeter because you just keep pushing further into the history books of the sport. My favourite part of winning though is how many people win with you. That’s something so special that really makes it for me. 

ZAG: No doubt the APB camp holds a different atmosphere, whats the vibe amongst you all?

Iain Campbell: The Saffa Camp is the best team when on tour. It is held together in a tightly knit crew that does pretty much everything together. There are a few guys from the other countries that we generally hanging out with but for the most part, we are pretty tight.

Do you think the waves around our country support a good bodyboarding culture? 

I definitely think the waves play a good role in the reason why it has become so successful and stays so successful. The guys are pushing to ride here and most of them do it for little to no money. The core of the sport in South Africa is not dependent on sponsorships but for the love of the sport and that’s what drive guys to search for new waves, get better and keep pushing the sport to new heights here at home.  

When I was young I remember it being drilled into us that we were to compete hard and get the win. We always got taught how to compete and what was needed to do to win heats. Now that we have grown up and learned from all our mistakes it transpired into the world tour and I feel that’s why we have become so strong. 


Growing up who were you looking toward for motivation/inspiration?

In my early days I grew up looking to guys around North Beach like Billy Thiel and a few others but it was mainly the guys in the videos like Jeff Hubbard and Ben Player that really inspired me. When I started to get into the competitive scene it was definitely guys like Sacha Specker, Mark McCarthy and Jared Houston that really got me inspired to take on the world tour and try make a go of it.  

South African bodyboarding, what would you like to see happen?

I want to see a world tour event here in the next few years. This needs to happen so more money can be given to the guys that want to travel and make a profession out of the sport. This idea is already in the process but it needs everyone in the community to get together and make it happen.

Can you give us a little more information, where would you like to see the event, is there a big enough community to get this off the ground?

There is definitely a big enough community around and people in the right places to get this off the ground. I would like to see the event somewhere in the Cape area. The waves down here are insane. We ride all year round and score some of the best waves South Africa has to offer. There are plenty of spots for the event to happen but it’s going to take a year or two of planning and organising to get this running. There is already a dedicated team that has been set up to try and make this process happen. Hopefully, in the next two years, we will see all the pro riders here for a big Grand Slam Event. 

What are the biggest hurdles the sport needs to overcome here at home?

We need the funding and the right plan. We need to look at the youth and develop a structure that will allow these riders to benefit from events and start to make a push to get overseas, get experience and become better known. 

Besides Hawaii, which is effectively it’s own surfing country, why do we not see more Americans on tour?

I wish there were more. When the industry took a bad knock, back when the Tour died in 2012, I feel all the countries had a massive drop. The USA had it the worst and I feel it has never really recovered. I wish there were more people in the industry that would push the USA market but it is slowly on the rise. There is a newly found region as APB North America, so this could be a start to get the sport back to where it was in the past. 




  1. Spaniard
    30 November, 2018 at 1:32 pm · Reply

    Just to clarify something… Andre Botha won 2 World Titles, Jared has won 2 and Iain has won 1, so that is 5 for the prone gang! Sasha Spex also won a DK World Title and Tristan won the Junior World Title. #boogieforlife

  2. […] a não perceber a não existência de um evento na terra de Mandela. A revista sul africana ZigZag escreve que são os melhores, os gigantes, mas não são! Para o serem têm de realizar um evento […]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *